Alpine has been back for several years and still only offers one model. However, that model has been regularly modified to meet the needs of specific target groups. Most recently, Autozine drove the relatively luxurious GT. Instead, the "R" driven here is as pure as possible, with luxury giving way to performance.
To achieve (even) better performance, Alpine has modified almost everything except the engine. And that can already be seen on the outside. Wherever possible, sheet metal has been replaced with carbon fibre to save weight. Even the rims are made of carbon fibre and have an almost closed pattern. Because the A110R is not only lighter (-34 kg), but also better streamlined than the A110S. For extra downforce, spoilers have been fitted all around as well as a beefy spoiler at the rear.
Maybe not immediately obvious: the rear window is not tinted black, but absent! For the sake of streamline and weight, the rear window has also been replaced by a carbon panel and therefore the driver only has rearward visibility via the wing mirrors. There's no mirror in the cabin. Partly because the wing mirrors are small, the A110 must be driven like a van: the driver must always know what is going on around the car because the mirrors only show part of the surroundings. Changing lanes to the right is particularly tricky, as the blind spot is now so large that an entire SUV could disappear into it!
The biggest change in the interior concerns the seats. These are now full-sized "Sabelt Track" bucket seats including three-point harnesses, as in a racing car. Therefore, every ride requires taking some time to buckle up. The racing belts also bring an unexpected inconvenience: because the driver is always pressed into the seat, it is impossible to lean forward to see traffic lights.
The equipment of the "R" is similar to that of the other versions of the A110. Luxury features such as air conditioning, an infotainment system, electric side windows, keyless entry and a reversing camera have all remained. As usual, a small bag against the rear wall forms the main "storage space" in the cabin.
Performance in theory
As mentioned earlier, to turn a regular A110 into an A110 R a lot of modifications were made, except for the engine. This is because it already delivers the maximum, and even more power would negatively affect reliability. Thus, a stronger gearbox would be needed to handle even more power, but it is heavier and that negatively affects handling. Therefore, the A110 R is also powered by the familiar 1.8-litre turbo engine with 300 hp / 340 Nm that transfers its power to the rear wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission.
Naturally, performance does improve thanks to the reduced weight. The A110 R accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds. Moreover, the increased downforce ensures that the maximum speed could be safely increased. The limiter has therefore been dropped, bringing the top speed to 285 km/h.
Performance in practice
The A110 R is meant to be a car that feels at home on the track and can also manage on public roads. During testing, this semi-race car drove effortlessly with rush-hour traffic without being intrusive or tiring. On the long haul, the A110 R is even distinctly economical for a sports car with consumption of 5.5 litres per 100 km.
On paper, modern electric cars easily beat the A110 R in a sprint. The Alpine's charm lies in the way its performance is delivered. Despite its small engine size, the car has an exciting and exhilarating sound. As the revs increase and the power builds, the thrill also increases. When maximum revs are reached, the automatic shifts gears at lightning speed to relive the party once more. This makes the A110 perhaps not faster than an electric car, but certainly much more spectacular.
The only criticism concerns the brakes. These are strong, but the feeling in the pedal is minimal and therefore the brakes are difficult to dose.
To improve handling, the A110 R is not only lighter, but different tyres have been fitted and the suspension has been lowered (-10 mm). Moreover, the driver or driver can decide how stiff the front and rear suspension is. This cannot be done at the push of a button, but with a jack and simple tools. For this test, it was driven in public road mode.
Standardly, the R comes with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 semi-slick tyres. On public roads, this results in the A110 being extremely sensitive to rutting. When changing lanes, it is rare to see ruts in the road surface, but in the A110R they can always be felt!
At low speeds, it is already noticeable that the A110 R is extremely capable, providing a superior feel. A small steering movement has immediate results and a brusque steering movement makes it clear why this car is fitted with harnesses! The A110 R is not only lively, but also extremely confident. That is why the pace gradually picks up to speeds reserved only for real sports cars. The best comparison is that of a rollercoaster: because the track is laid in such a way that the cars are pushed into the track, instinctively impossibly high speeds are possible. This seems scary at first, but is pure enjoyment afterwards. The A110 R offers that same sensation, but on the tarmac!
The Alpine A110 now also comes as an "R". Besides a generic, luxury and sporty version, the "R" is the radically sporty variant of the A110. To that end, the engine has not been modified, but almost all other components have been. Lightweight materials ensure even better performance. Special tyres, an adjustable suspension and more downforce make the A110 R noticeably more alert and provide even better handling. This pure mechanic comes into its own optimally on the track, while the car still lends itself to daily use on public roads.
- Pure, mechanical feel
- Relatively economical
- Made for the track, usable on public roads
- Little feeling in the brake pedal
- Limited overview due to lack of interior mirror